Need Compliance Help? Turn to the Community

Lora Bentley

States like Oregon and cities like Newport News, Va. already know the value of collaborating to create software they need for less, so why shouldn't industry groups and companies with similar needs take the same approach? That's what Stuart Cohen told me Wednesday that he wanted to offer when he started the Collaborative Software Initiative in 2007. Today, that's exactly what he does. He said:

Industry organizations, customers and partners approach us when they find they have common requirements for business applications... By working with Collaborative Software Initiative, customers share the cost of development and have ultimate control over the end result, due to the involvement of subject matter experts.

Once clients have identified the need for a particular business application, Cohen explained, CSI works to put together a team of software developers and subject matter experts, or SMEs, who will create the project roadmap, build the application, test it and then determine how to best "deploy it and sustain it." SMEs, he said, are those who use the tools every day and can help the developers determine if the products are functioning as they should.


CSI's first projects grew out of compliance and regulatory needs. For instance, CSI SIG is a Web application that allows quick response to and evaluation of the BITS SIG questionnaire via which vendor assessment data is gathered for purposes of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and other requirements. Cohen pointed out:

Collaborative development, or community sourcing, is a natural model for companies that need to meet compliance requirements. These companies work together in trade associations to develop common solutions that meet their requirements and meet the federal regulations.

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